Monday 24 February 2020

PEDAGOGY OF MUSIC PART 6: the art, science & organization of teaching music


A lot of attention has gone to writers and theorists who maintain that the
arts are right brain activities and therefore “intuitive, emotional, expressive,
visual or aural “ as opposed to “verbal and analytic. “
That would be an exaggeration, because the best artists are often those who
have both an ability to analyze  (ANAL EYES ?) and merge the intuitive emotive
components with the simplicity of their musical sounds. 
That said, using both sides of the brain is better than half a brain.  In truth
it’s pointless to have one without the other. That would be half-brained.
Teachers should nurture the duality so that they freely interact.
So why did educators jump up and down in excitement at the work of Betty
Edwards who wrote “Drawing On the Right Side Of the Brain.” ?    
Probably because there was a time when we struck so many teachers who had
analyzed the arts to the degree that there was nothing for the student to discover for
themselves, music or art lessons were simply an exercise in getting through
your list of exercises.  
It's important to both view a piece of work holistically and view it as a series of details.
Some people can't see the trees for the woods and vice versa.

As a musical example I can view Pachenbel's Canon as many detailed single and harmonized
notes or more simply I just consider it as a bunch of chords in C.
Inevitably you need both views to fill in the detail but both points of view have their place.
I need a pretty big toolbox of techniques and exercises to be a functional artist.  
But, realize that having something to say, enjoying the absence of rules, making
and allowing mistakes through your own experiments are important steps to
developing the “whole” brain. 
Ownership of the art needs to come from the artist.
Similarly, ownership of learning "ideally" is the responsibility of the learner. 
This won’t happen when students are spoon fed every step of the way. 
Beginners need more support with learning. Most texts ignore the creative side.
In fairness many are simply trying to cover their area well.
Gaps in learning need to be addressed by teachers clever enough to allow for learners
to input and own their own learning.
Playing an instrument or being a visual artist means that the focus is on the work, not
how much you talk about it. Art isn't always clever. Art isn't always improved by complication.
Art doesn't always have a clear purpose. Art isn't always loved by audiences.
To break the dominance of the analytic side of the brain, and enhance creativity,
you need to put yourself into situations where you don’t actually know what will
happen so you can’t foresee and thus plan out everything. Merged with the
analysis and rules of music, these combinations lead to a synergy of excellence.

I can't look inside a brain to see how to improve those brain connections but I can use a
variety of approaches rather than a single way of doing things to encourage wide range

Piaget was a French educator and researcher who noted the differences in
reasoning ability between  younger children and older children.
He was tasked with developing questions for intelligence tests and was curious
about why different ages kids made the mistakes they did.
He started writing his ideas down.

Not really groundbreaking stuff in my opinion but younger children do know less,
have less experience and need differences in teaching. 
They do not have the same ability as adults to deal with abstractions such as
number and need more sensory experience and concrete learning experiences.
What Piaget did in his outlining of 4 learning stages was create a new vocabulary
for it. Many teachers, well good teachers (and parents) were probably making
the same observations about their kids but didn’t write a book on it.
Voila, psychology is high-brow common sense combined with experience of the
subject matter.  
Hands on approaches are an important part of musical education. Just don't buy your
kid a set of drums.

PUTTING THINGS IN BOXES :Thinking inside or outside the box. 
That’s what we do to make our world understandable. Give labels to things and
the creation of “subjects” at school into some sort of specialty helps us learn. 
Remember “big picture” thinking must see the relationship between all the parts
and notice that many of those parts overlap. 
I’ve hated teacher meetings when we collectively fill out a planner for a course we
teach and somebody isn’t sure which box to put it in so they have overlong discussions
as to where it belonged. 
The correct box would be labeled “time wasting.”
There are many instances where a concept overlaps several subject areas.
That really shouldn’t be a problem.
Much of in the box thinking could just as easily be out of the box. 
“Out of the box thinking ” has limits. Paradoxically,  no limit has limits. The paradox is simple.
Bringing in too many ideas doesn’t facilitate completion. 
My real-life example:
I tried to write a tribute song over a long period of time. I’d scratch out ideas, add and subtract,
but I wandered my way to no particular destination. 
I joined a song-writing course. The task was to follow a rule with a simple structure to write a
song. 5 minutes later I had it in a fairly complete state.
Thinking inside the box has validity. 
Teachers are sometimes told ‘the best questions are open-ended.” They could
be, but they’re also  a chance for someone to wander further and further from
the subject under discussion so let’s not get carried too far away into the world
of aimless pursuit. Teachers are supposed to guide learners to some sense of
completion, with the maturity to understand that no one can complete everything.

Intrinsic Strength your own capacity to learn, share, to grow, to nurture, to
independently manage yourself, to cooperate and collaborate, is just one of our
potential powers.
Referred Power  is a power we can use such as, when a team leader who can’t
control a staffer might use their appointed power ( a higher level boss) to fire 
their problem person or collaborate with their boss to dismiss or correct behaviour of
that worker.
A teacher might call on the principal or parent for back up when dealing with a
problem student. It doesn’t have to be negative or positive, it’s just the power is
not owned or earned directly.  
The principal might call in the parent to back-up the behaviour modification.
(Borrowed strength can produce weakness but at times is necessary.)

Collaborative Power of a team which includes colleagues, parents and
students would synergize all the possibilities.
As they say “it takes a village to raise a child.”

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